November 4

Best debit card Singapore

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If you ever looked down on those uncles staring at the fine print, pulling down the spectacles down the ridge of their nose, and asking at the counter,

Ah auntie, how much cashback ah?

That’s me.

If you thought the people who go reading online reviews on cashback, and finance, on the weekend, for fun, were crazy, yes I’m probably that crazy.

It’s all in the name of retiring before 40.

Just don’t date me. I would probably wax lyrical about the latest cashback you can get from your card.

And I would probably tell you that we should probably go to the hawker centre, rather than the mall.

Having held as many as 5 different debit cards (don’t laugh), I’m here to tell you what has been the best experience for me, and how you can maximise your cashback.

The debit cards I’ve heldGreatNot great
DBS Multicurrency Visa Debit CardNo fall below fee 
DBS Visa Debit CardNo fall below fee 
OCBC Frank Debit Card1% cashbackMinimum of $1000 needed, or not fall below fees of $2 are charged
UOB One Debit CardHigh cash back of 3%, without a monthly spend neededMinimum of $500 needed or fall below fees of $2 charged
DBS PAssion Debit Card4% rebate at Cold Storage, Giant and Guardian, but now with 8% cashback when linked to Yuu rewards clubMinimum of $400 spending needed, and cash withdrawals of less than $400 in a single month

Debit cards are still better than credit cards

Credit, really isn’t that sexy.

For all the free gifts they might throw at you, read the fine print. You may need to:

  • spend $500 in the first month
  • hold onto the card for a year

All these are the ways that banks use to make sure they make money off you, before you leave.

They are there to hook you. After all, spending money makes you feel powerful. Bring home the latest MacBook, the newest iPhone, and you start feeling like you’re the sexiest guy in the room.

But it’s not the best way to sustain a financially wise life.

I’ve never used a credit card. Not without good reason.

Ultimately, there are certain red lines in my financial management. I refuse to spend money I don’t have. Or spending money that I have, that I can pay later.

It’s just too far a slippery slope for me. And knowing how dangerous that can be, I would rather not put a ticking grenade in my pocket.

That’s why I stick to debit cards. They can help you to spend more reasonably, rather than trying desperately to get the next cashback, over and over again.

There are many ifs.

To maximise your cashback, you need to ask yourself some questions:

  1. Which grocery store do you most regularly shop? The most common cashback cards offer cashback mostly at NTUC Fairprice or the Dairy Farm group of stores (Cold Storage or Giant).
  2. How do you usually pay for travel? Is it via EZ-Link topup, or debit card?

Here are some principles if you want to get the most cashback.

Keep most spending to a single card

Grocery, travel, and online shopping can all be kept to a single card. Rather than switching between your various cards, I would recommend that you keep the spending in a single card so that you can maximise cashback.

After all, when all you’re getting back is a few dollars a month (3% of $400 spent is about $12), you might not find it worth to split your hairs on spending on other things.

Don’t pressure yourself to reach the limit

If you’re honest, it’s not that easy to hit card transactions of $400 a month.

My card transactions have been about $300 a month. $150 for food, and $150 for personal expenses.

Look at it this way. If you were able to spend just $40 a week in secondary school, what makes life in the workplace different?

Not much.

Just because you earn more money, doesn’t mean you need to spend it.

Hands-down, the UOB One card

I’ve used this since I was a pimply 16-year-old. As a 16-year-old, I would be that nerd who would go down to the bank with his passbook, put in the hard-earned cash after a day of backbreaking work arranging bottles at a supermarket, and then see the money slowly inked into the passbook.

It was cute, but it also made me fall in love with UOB.

Over the years, it’s been the card of choice for everything. Transport, grocery, and even my regular internet purchases.

What’s even better is that the 3% cashback has no minimum spend. You don’t feel the pressure to spend more than $400 a month just to qualify for cashback.

Trust me, it’s really not that hard to spend less than $400 a month if you just watch your spending.

It’s the card of choice for me, because of how consistent it has been with the cashback. At the start of each month, on the 1st, the cashback is immediately credited into your account.

What I also love is that the fall below fee is only below $500, which is lower compared to the other cards like OCBC.

Just as there's one Ring to rule them all, there's also just the One Card to win them all
Just as there’s one Ring to rule them all, there’s also just the One Card to win them all

A close second is the DBS PAssion card

DBS has really upped its game with the recent October 2022 launch of the Yuu card. But to qualify, you need to spend a minimum of $400 a month.

The yuu points sound attractive, but you may have to spend $400!
The yuu points sound attractive, but you may have to spend $400!

Use OCBC Frank, if you want fancy card designs

There’s no great cashback for the OCBC Frank. Only a fancy card design you can show off.

Fancy card designs, anyone?
Fancy card designs, anyone?

Well, if you don’t have the money, at least you can show off the card, heh?

I’m kidding. The OCBC Frank Card is not a card I would personally recommend, because of the low cashback, and the $1000 you have to keep inside (or risk fall below fees of $1000).

only a paltry 1%
only a paltry 1%

Whilst OCBC did have a previous attractive offer of the NTUC Debit Card, with a cashback of almost 8%, that’s ending. In Feb 2023, no more 8%!

What was previously promised by OCBC, picture from singsaver.com
What was previously promised by OCBC, picture from singsaver.com

Maybe OCBC realised they weren’t cashing back more money than they were making!

No more 8% cashbacks from OCBC NTUC
No more 8% cashbacks from OCBC NTUC

Get the UOB One Card

Most of us don’t really want to spend our lives reading through terms and conditions, trying to figure out just how much cashback you will get.

I mean, if you were spending thousands of dollars each month, sure, the difference between 3 and 4% will make a difference.

But for the rest of the commoners like you and me, it will probably not make that much difference. What matters more is taking an effort to

  1. Grow your income
  2. Know every single penny that goes out
  3. Control your expenses on non-discretionary, luxury, products
  4. Build wealth

That will help you grow your income over time.

Look no further. UOB One is really the only one you need.


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